Avila, Spain: Home of Saint Teresa of Avila
The city of Avila appears much as it did in the sixteenth century: cobblestone streets surrounded by a giant wall built to defend against enemies. The atmosphere of the town, with its quaint buildings, gives you a glimpse of what life must have appeared to be in those long-ago times. And, of course, it is the birthplace of St. Teresa of Avila.
About Saint Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus):
St. Teresa was born in 1515 here in Avila, and from her earliest years she was religiously inclined. Her mother died when she was 12, and she entrusted herself to the Blessed Virgin Mary for maternal care. At the age of 19 she left home to join the Carmelite order in her home town. However, she found that this order had greatly relaxed its rules and lived more like those in the outside world. After reading St. Augustine’s Confessions she embarked upon a reform of the order. She traveled throughout Spain reforming old convents and forming new ones. On one of her journeys she met St. John of the Cross, who became her spiritual adviser. They both worked together to help reform the Carmelite orders, both men and women.
St Teresa died in 1582 on her way to her convent at Alba de Tormes. When her body was exhumed more that 330 years later, the coffin emitted a sweet-smelling heavenly fragrance known as “the odor of sanctity”. An extraordinary grace she received was when in her autobiography she talks about an angel who thrust an arrow in to her heart, leaving her “on fire with a great love of God”. After her body was exhumed and her body examined, it was found that she had a perforation of the heart. Thus, science confirmed one of her greatest mystical experiences.
You can find a great selection of St. Teresa of Avila prayer cards, medals, books, statues and more here at The Catholic Company.
What to see in Avila:
Among the sites to see here are the Monastery of the Incarnation where you can see her cell; the Convent of St. Teresa (which is actually the house where she was born); the Cathedral of Avila and the relics of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross.
There is nothing like staying in this medieval town and enjoying a stroll on the cobblestone streets, listening to some lively entertainment and the atmosphere of the town. It is the highlight of many who travel to Spain.
Be aware, of course, that when we mention cobblestone streets it will present difficulties for those with problems walking. You are in a city hundreds of years old so don’t expect modern sidewalks.
Traveling to Avila:
Avila is about 80 miles Northwest of Madrid, easily reached by car or train. For trains you depart from Madrid Chamartin Station (this is the smaller of Madrid’s train stations). The train is direct and takes about 1 1/2 to two hours. There are several trains every day, so it can be an easy day trip from Madrid. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Plaza de La Santa, 2 05001 – Avila
GPS coordinates: 40° 39′ 19.2420” N, 4° 42′ 10.0044” W
Tel: +34 920 21 10 30
Click here for the official website of the convent of Saint Teresa of Avila.